By Angela Jemmott | OBSERVER Correspondent

Jerry Dixon, Sacramento State’s First Black Graduate.

“In the second year of its existence, this new College has grown to the point of where it is difficult, if not impossible, for one to know personally the hundreds of individual faculty and students who compose it.”

— Dr. Guy G. West, 

President of Sacramento State College in the 1949 edition of “The Statesman”

President Guy West may have not known Jerry Emmanuel Dixon personally, the first African American graduate of Sacramento State University. But, today we pause to honor this largely unknown pioneer. Dixon single-handedly accomplished what others during his day only dreamed of achieving: he earned a higher degree. The year was 1949.

Many of Dixon’s colleagues and family members have passed on. Therefore, much is unknown about what he had to go through to complete the distinct honor of earning a bachelor of arts degree from Sacramento State back then. 

However, what we have learned of this pioneer is extremely noteworthy.

Dixon was born February 11, 1908, to the union of William E. Dixon and Daisy Bettis Dixon in Dixon Mills, Ala. Young Dixon attended school in Dixon Mills. 

It was discovered that he also attended and graduated from Alabama State College. For a time Dixon taught school in Alabama before being drafted to the Air Force. He served in the segregated armed forces during World War II and was honorably discharged as a sergeant. 

Sacramento State 1949 graduating class

Dixon moved to Sacramento, Calif., where he sought and earned his degree from Sacramento State. Records confirmed that he gained his degree in Education and a Teaching Credential in General Elementary Education. 

Dixon did not use his degree to teach in the California school systems; he did however, use his education to work in the community. 

He was highly respected and a dedicated worker in the Sacramento community. Family members and friends who knew him best cherish great memories of Dixon.

Dixon was laid to rest at Mt. Vernon Memorial Park and Mortuary on May 15, 1991.